An island retreat for the arts

Artist Ann Morris gives her breathtaking Lummi Island studio grounds to Western
Story by Mary Gallagher

Sculpture Woods is open to the public the first Saturday of the month from 10 to 5.

To learn more about the endowment to maintain Sculpture Woods, get in touch with Sonja Sather at Sonja.Sather@wwu.edu or 360-650-3384.

Artist Ann Morris spent two decades creating bronze sculptures and other artwork at her 14.5-acre wooded retreat on Lummi Island. Now, Morris is making sure the beautiful enclave known as Sculpture Woods can be a creative retreat for WWU artists, faculty and community members for years to come. 

Morris and her two children, Brook Morris of Los Angeles and Clea Costa Van Voorhis of Chicago, have given the property to the Western Foundation to preserve as a space for art, performance and education.

“This is a creative retreat that is welcoming to artists of all kinds,” says Kit Spicer, dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts. “There is a palpable creative energy in this space and I think a lot of that is due to Ann and her work. But it’s also due to what Ann has done to maintain the natural integrity of this space, the land and the trees, and the studio and the gallery.” 

Sculpture Woods includes a studio and gallery along with 16 of Morris’ own larger-than-life bronze sculptures, which are situated throughout the wooded hillside overlooking the water. Morris continues to work in her studio, where she was recently adding to her “Crossings” series of tiny boats crafted from found materials such as twigs, seaweed, leather, wasp nest paper and wisteria pods. She’ll lease the property from Western as long as she wants to. 

The Western Foundation, which has established an endowment to maintain the property, will preserve Sculpture Woods as a “creative generator,” Spicer says. 

There are many ways Western students and faculty can use the space, he says. Perhaps it could be offered for artist residencies, or as an intimate performance space for student capstone concerts. Art faculty could offer intensive courses in the studio itself. And students could serve as docents on the monthly open house days at Sculpture Woods. 

“Very few universities have anything like this,” Spicer says. “This is one of the coolest places in the world.” 

Detail of Ann Morris’ bronze sculpture “Trinity.”
Detail of Ann Morris’ bronze sculpture “Trinity.”

is editor of Window magazine

Photo by Rhys Logan ('11)